Active Autopilot investigation opened into fatal Tesla Model S fire truck crash
The Tesla Model S that slammed into a parked fire truck with fatal consequences for the driver a few weeks ago may have had its autonomous driving system engaged at the time. This is the argument that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave on Wednesday for launching an active federal investigation into the accident.
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District ladder truck was parked diagonally on the northbound highway lanes in order to shield first responders who were working on a previous non-fatal crash. It had all of its warning light on when at about 4 AM the Model S slammed into it at high speed resulting in a complete demolition of the electric car's front.
While several firefighters had to be treated for minor injuries, the driver was pronounced dead at the scene and the Tesla had to be cut open to retrieve their body. The fire truck then had to be towed for repair and this is just the latest incident of Tesla cars slamming into first responder vehicle stopped on a highway or at the side of the road, despite all the flashing warning lights they typically employ.
It will be added to the official NHTSA investigation list from back in 2021 that deals with crashes of Tesla cars into emergency vehicles:
The investigation opening was motivated by an accumulation of crashes in which Tesla vehicles, operating with Autopilot engaged, struck stationary in-road or roadside first responder vehicles tending to pre-existing collision scenes. Upon opening the investigation, NHTSA indicated that the PE would also evaluate additional similar circumstance crashes of Tesla vehicles operating with Autopilot engaged, as well as assess the technologies and methods used to monitor, assist, and enforce the driver’s engagement with the dynamic driving task during Autopilot operation.
Recently, the NHTSA also issued a recall of more than 360,000 Tesla vehicles of various model years for traffic rule violations stemming from the use of its autonomous driving system, such as running stop signs at intersections, or speeding.